Skip to comments.Hockey fighting flares emotions - on both sides
Posted on 10/19/2005 10:17:59 PM PDT by RWR8189
DIMONDALE - Can we all agree that the coach-ordered fistfighting Bob McClean believes he witnessed at The Summit ice arena last week is a bad thing?
Gordon Allington has no objection to it. His 17-year-old son, Chase Allington, plays in the local Capital Centre Pride league. The kid says he fights when the coach says "fight."
The father accepts it as an occupational hazard. Calling Tuesday from Wasilla, Alaska, he said: "They must learn how to protect themselves. It's a way to get the kids to the next level."
Al Harris agrees. He lives in East Lansing and has two sons - 11 and 17 - who play hockey. In an e-mail responding to Tuesday's column, Harris wrote:
"In my opinion, the parents of these high-caliber players brought their kids to this coaching staff in order to prepare them for hockey at the next level."
He added: "Regardless of how it looks, these players were learning to protect themselves and their teammates in a sport that condones physical confrontation."
As I wrote Tuesday, McClean, a retired cop who lives in Dimondale, was watching his grandson play at The Summit, in Dimondale, on Oct. 11, when he saw something that filled him with disgust.
He called it "orchestrated brutality."
As McClean described the scenario, a coach at a practice session of teenage hockey players ordered the kids to drop their gloves and helmets, and fight each other, one on one. He said he witnessed four or five fights, which left several kids bloodied.
Debi Haigh of Eagle, at The Summit with her 9-year-old daughter, said she saw the same thing McClean saw.
"I was stunned," Haigh said. "One boy took a heck of a beating. He skated to the side holding his nose and wiping tears."
Based on McClean's account and a preliminary review, Jim Cain, who runs both The Summit and the league, suspended an unnamed coach while he investigates.
"We have reason to believe fighting occurred," Cain said, adding that such conduct violates rules of both the league and USA Hockey, the governing body of amateur hockey in the United States.
Also, George Atkinson of the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association said Tuesday that his group will "get to the bottom" of the incident.
"We certainly do not condone the type of behavior described in your article," Atkinson said.
Speaking theoretically, Eaton County Prosecutor Jeffrey Sauter said a coach who encourages minors to engage in assault could face misdemeanor charges.
Parents feel stymied
Clearly, some parents of players who know about the fighting don't like it, but they feel paralyzed by their sons' hockey ambitions.
I heard from two women who identified themselves as mothers of two of the players on the team in question.
One of the mothers said her son suffered a concussion and three loose teeth in one of the "practice fights." The other mother said her son was forced to fight his best friend.
But neither had filed a complaint, and both were adamant about not being publicly identified.
Why? They offered identical motives: Their sons begged them not to do or say anything that would threaten their standing on the team and their future in hockey.
Their reasoning went like this: The boys struggled through the ranks to become part of an elite team in the Pride league. Being linked to an official complaint would subject a player to being shunned, at best, and possible retaliation.
Said one mother: "If it ever got out that he complained, his days of playing serious hockey would be over."
Having played hockey from 5-18 yrs old, 76-89' I'd beg to differ with alot of the opinions here.
Fighting has a place, and is needed in hockey.
My bantam coach never took it as far as that nutjob mentioned in the article, but he had us drop gloves and helmets and just wrestle quite a bit to improve balance and overall familiarity with fighting on the ice.
Refs miss alot and sometimes, someone just needs thier butt kicked.
Two missing teeth or a couple of cuts is alot more incentive to not lay on wood, slewfoot, or dig on a goalie than two minutes in the box.
And if mommy and daddy, and the refs, or the league won't discourage the repeat offender, pain will.
Lastly, with helmets and masks mandatory throughout North America at all levels of amatuer hockey, a kid who lays on wood and recieves a punches through a mask from a kid with gloves on probably deserves it and will be wiser for it.
Juniors and the minors will always be the testing ground for the Pro's. And fighting will never be eliminated from it.
And to those who say only the unskilled resort to such tactics, you are ignorant. A Gordie Howe hat-trick was a goal, assist and a fight....
i am talking about the bantam games i see. there are no shanahans, mccartys or lindros playing in the games i see!
Ah yes.....those were the days!!
I got to see the action up close and personal from my season seats at The Spectrum, section N, row 9, seats 3 and 4.
Why didn't one of the parents beat the crap out of this coach?
We are already seeing a huge emphasis on checking from behind in our NCAA D1 games - 5 minute major and game misconduct seems to be the standard penalty.
Maybe Bettman (with a lot of help) is going to get one right (one in a row) - and the game will evolve - in a positive direction.
Each and every one of these kids wants to have a career in hockey. The sooner they learn how not to get their ass kicked, the better. This isn't the seventh grade tennis team. This is high-level junior hockey.
Darren McCarty was the man.
I miss him on the Wings....
If this is a high level junior team it would be a different story.
The way the article is written made me think they were a midget team or something like that playing AAA.
And spin kicks with skates on are just beyond the pale.
Terry O'Reilly is another one. Watching him was a clinic, which is why Dave Schultz and he still will not occupy the same room, much less speak to one another. I saw Larry Robinson put Big Bird Salesky's head into the boards hard enough to leave a dent -- and that was in the days before helmets. (Fortunately nobody from the Flyers every needed a head for anything, so Salesky continued as usual.) The Bruins, Canadiens and Flyers won many Stanley Cups and there was no European stick-whacking like we get now that the girls are not allowed to drop the gloves.
I'm sorry if you don't like old time hockey, but I do, and I think my kids would run away from home if their mommy came running into the locker room caterwauling about some big meaning whaling on her baby.
Kate, I'm a big fan of old time hockey. I grew up on it and would be banned from FR if I mentioned my opinion of Gary Bettman and his changes. There were as many jerseys of McCarty, Draper, Konstantinov, and Maltby as there are of Yzerman (and even he could drop the gloves if he had to)and Lidstrom. Going back to the 80's, it was Probert, Kocur, and Harold Snepts who looked like my dad. I am as strong proponent of fighting in hockey(as opposed to the Ulf Samuelssons), as long as the league involved has it. If this was juniors, or a tryout to be drafted into the OHL/WHL/QMJHL, that would be one thing. This is a midget or bantam league which is a different level that doesn't have fighting. This isn't about old time hockey. If fighting should be allowed in bantum and midget levels, then we should have it in the rules. If that's the case, then this practice would be alright in my book, if proper techniques were taught. I coached football for four years(winning record). All of us coaches had one major rule in our drills. Everything we did in practice was game related. We did a lot of hitting and hitting techniques. It's part of the game.
I agree 100% with what you said.